Wednesday 29 May 2013

Words for Wednesday

Words for Wednesday

Delores from ‘The Feathered Nest’ offers six words (actually, technically it’s eight this weekJ) as a writing prompt – blank, dashing, flashlight, four leaf clover, shadowy, trembling. Why not visit her and see what other writing has been inspired?

It was twilight when Jess left school. Usually she walked with her friends but they had stayed on for play rehearsal.  Knowing she would be walking home alone today her mother had reminded her to take her flashlight but Jess had forgotten. She wished now she had its bright beam to slice through the gathering darkness.

Dashing past the house everyone claimed was haunted she glanced at the blank windows and shuddered. Shrubs and creepers straggled about the door and she thought she glimpsed a shadowy figure half hidden there. It moved towards her, a man, tall, big, strong. Jess gasped and urged her trembling legs to carry her faster.

The next morning her parents identified the pendant Jess had been wearing when her body was recovered from the river. ‘We thought it would bring her luck. Silly superstition, really,’ her father said in a gruff voice. He ran his finger over the four leaf clover resting on his palm as his wife wept in the arms of a policewoman.

Sunday 26 May 2013

The Ponytail

The Ponytail
Ponytail by Last Exit
Bank Holiday weekend – cars crawled round the car park searching for a space and then their drivers crawled round the supermarket, queueing to select their purchases, seeking the best bargains and hoping the fine weather would keep. Harassed mothers towed small children, refusing their requests for the sweet and sticky treats so temptingly displayed. Students sauntered along the aisles, filling their baskets with bottles and cans of alcohol and calorie-laden snacks. Lovers wound their arms round each other and ambled around the vast emporium, oblivious to everyone else and preventing them from finding the items they sought.

I was in a hurry. I had not intended going out to shop but my grocery order had been delivered with some of the vital ingredients ‘unavailable.’ Most irritating, particularly as I had guests arriving for dinner in a few hours.

Having found everything, apart from water chestnuts, I looked for the fastest-moving queue. Every check-out desk sported a long tailback of shoppers anxious to unload their trolleys and get home to their barbecues, their drinks parties, their assignations or simply their precious, limited time off. Bank holidays are rare in the UK and each one is anticipated with pleasure.

I joined a queue and began my usual pastime of covertly scrutinising the purchases of my fellow shoppers. Then I began to watch the people in front of me. Each trolley load was swiftly checked out – there was an orchestra of beeps from the check-out desks. Surely the cashiers must hear them in their sleep.

I focussed on the woman in front of me. She had the usual array of tasty treats many people buy to pamper themselves – luxury chocolates, a couple of bottles of good red wine, a glossy magazine and a fine selection of fresh vegetables, fish and meat. I judged she had a family waiting for her to return and cook a delicious meal. I noted her hair – expensively cut and coloured and artfully arranged in a high ponytail, with loose tendrils curling at the sides. Dainty diamond drop earrings threatened to tangle with them and I watched to see if they would catch but they didn’t. At her neck was a silk scarf, one end casually tossed over her shoulder, complementing her crisp blouse. She was so slender! I glanced down at her feet, neatly shod in smart loafers, her slim, pretty ankles just visible beneath the hem of her long, flowing skirt. I looked at my own ensemble and felt shabby in my trainers and gilet. I was envious. It seemed this young woman had all the time and money required to be beautifully presented at all times. Her nails were manicured and polished to perfection and adorned with beautiful rings. A gold charm bracelet caught the light as she packed her items.

With the final things in her bags she turned to pay. With a shock I realised, far from being young, she was a woman of very mature years. Suddenly the hair and clothes seemed wrong, too young, not suited to her age. She caught my eye and smiled as she said, ‘I could have worn purple, you know,’ and I blushed.

All the way home the words of Jenny Joseph’s poem went round and round in my head. ‘When I am an old woman I shall wear purple With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me’ and I resolved to be less judgmental in future.

Thanks to Tess for this prompt. Go here to read other offerings.

Thursday 23 May 2013

Romantic Friday Writers,- Letters

The challenge from Romantic Friday Writers is LETTERS.
Why not visit to see what others have written?

As Miriam heard the flap of the letter box clatter old memories were awakened as so often these days. She recalled how her heart leapt into her mouth and she had to caution herself against disappointment. Many mornings the mail brought only bills and appointments for her parents who sighed and clucked and shook their heads over them. On the days when an envelope for her dropped onto the door mat she smiled before even opening it.  Some days a bundle of letters arrived and she had to put them in date order before opening them.

Every time she slit the envelope she imagined she could catch the writer’s scent. She read the letter quickly, savouring the dearly-loved handwriting and ran her fingers across the black ink before reading it again, more slowly. Every pen stroke was precious, proof of William’s love for her.

My Darling,       
                     It has been so long since I held you in my arms and kissed your lovely face. I miss you more and more with each passing day and cannot wait to be with you once again.
                     A few of us went out on the town last night. It’s not much of a town and there wasn’t much to see but it was good to be on terra firma. Getting one’s sea legs is one thing, regaining one’s land legs quite another. I smile when I remember how you laughed at my rolling gait the last time I was home on leave.

I wish I could tell you more of my daily life
but you know that is not possible. One day . . .! Maybe that day will come soon – I’m sure we all hope so.

Until then, be patient my darling and know
that I love you with all my heart. I long for the day when we can be together forever, you, me and our children, I hope. Am I presuming too much? You do want children, don’t you? I know you do – didn’t we decide on five? They will be the most beautiful ever seen, I know. I will never do anything to hurt you, my dearest one, my angle. Keep safe, sweet one. I shall.

                     Yours always and for ever

                            x  x  x
Miriam giggled a little at William’s spelling of ‘angel’ but loved him all the more for not being absolutely perfect. She brought the paper to her nose and sniffed it. William’s hands had been the last to touch it – well, she knew that wasn’t strictly true; all mail had to be censored but she thought the people who did that must recognise love letters and skim them quickly, almost without touching them.

She must write back immediately. William had told her so often how important her letters were and how they brought a little normality into his life. ‘All the chaps feel the same,’ he had said when they parted after his last leave. She had promised then that she would write every single day. Sometimes it was hard to think what to write. Her life was very ordinary, her days spent reading or sewing, sometimes gardening or studying a new piece of piano music. On the most trying days she enclosed a pressed flower and told William something about it.

She sat at her writing desk, looking out over the garden, one finger gently touching her lips and remembering William’s ardent kisses. She picked up her pen and unscrewed the cap.

My Dearest William,

                           It gave me such joy to receive your letter this morning. It makes the sun shine brighter, the birds sing more sweetly, the air feel fresher. Such nonsense, I know, my darling, but truly your letters lift my spirit in a way nothing else can, apart from your presence, naturally.

Of course I understand the secrecy
that must necessarily surround all of you – I would not have it otherwise and no-one I know thinks any differently. I’m sorry the town wasn’t up to much, though part of me feels quite glad, I should not like to think of you being tempted by glamorous ladies in smart clubs. No, don’t worry, my love – I know your heart belongs to me. Have you not told me so often enough? And are you not a respectable married man? Yes, I do want children – the more the merrier, I think, but five will do to start with.

Keep safe, my darling. I love you
and I always will.

                           Your Miriam
                            x  x  x
Miriam bent to pick up the mail, groaning a little - her back felt worse this morning after a restless night. She sifted through the pile, sighing and clucking and shaking her head at the proliferation of buff envelopes. She tossed them onto the hall table – they would keep until later. For now she would take her tea onto the patio and sit in the morning sunshine and listen to the birds.

It had been just such a morning when William’s last letters were delivered but she had delayed opening them. It had been a shock, receiving them from beyond the grave as it were, for the telegram informing her of William’s death had arrived just the day before. 

Miriam gazed at her wrinkled hands and felt afresh the emptiness in her heart, less agonising now, more of a dull ache. There had been no children, no little part of her beloved husband to cherish. At least she still had his letters and that was as much as she had known of him those long months he had spent at sea. She had, too, the letters she had written him. They had been returned unopened and that was how they had remained for she needed no reminders of the optimism and love she had felt.

She sighed and got up. ‘Life must go on,’ she chided herself, but some days she wondered why.



Wednesday 22 May 2013

Words for Wednesday

Words for Wednesday

Delores from ‘The Feathered Nest’ offers six words as a writing prompt – tissue, cemented, boardwalk, rolling, bubbles, balding. Why not visit her and see what other writing has been prompted?

‘I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky . . . ’ John Masefield’s poem evokes such a romantic vision of the sea but the reality, on these overcrowded shores, is often very different.

If you are lucky enough to find a sandy beach the boardwalk is likely to be splintered and in need of repair. Then comes the search for a spot to dump all the essentials for a day at the seaside – the windbreaks, the cool box, the folding chairs . . . ah, there’s a place, just there, between the pale, balding man and his brassy wife and noisy offspring and the loving young couple who are oblivious of everyone else, cemented to each other in a most unseemly way.

In that peculiarly British way you will then avoid any eye contact as you lever yourself and your family into a space smaller than your sitting room sofa and proceed to unpack your belongings, At last you can relax and enjoy the waves rolling in, bubbles of foam tipping the crests. ‘White horses’ you tell your children and they giggle, then ask if they can go and paddle.

‘Of course you can,’ you say and accompany them to the water’s edge to find that the ‘white horses’ are formed from cast-off tissue. Not only that, it’s tissue you would normally find in the bathroom, wound around cardboard tubes. Hastily, you grab your children’s hands and promise them ice-creams as you swear that next time you fancy a trip to the coast you will look first at the list of Blue Flag beaches.

Sunday 12 May 2013

Cling – to hold tightly, be emotionally over-dependent, refuse to let go

Cling – to hold tightly, be emotionally over-dependent, refuse to let go

This is a reworked post from February 2009

I'm a reasonably independent woman, not often prone to temperamental outbursts. I have reached a point in my life where I am content with my lot. I am fortunate that I am physically strong (though currently keeping company with sciatica) and enjoy good health. I want for nothing, other than that which avarice dreams of. Even so, I know that material possessions and riches do not bring happiness. I love the members of my family and I think they love me. We embrace affectionately, support each other emotionally and respect each other's privacy. Why then, given these parameters, can I not cope with clingfilm?

Other people efficiently manage to encase widely differing objects; jugs of stock are staunchly refused permission to spill, cakes are neatly parcelled and hermetically sealed, the onions of winter salads resolutely try but fail to send their fumes beyond the plastic. Portions of fruit and slices of vegetables, roast chicken carcasses and too-generous casseroles all consign themselves to the constraints of this thin clear self-adhering plastic material.

They do all this until I try to marshal them. To be more precise it is not the contents that prove problematic but the clingfilm. Does it recognise in me a person who secretly longs to be enfolded in strong arms and held close till, breathless with passion, I beg for release? Well, of course not, but I have to distract myself with idle thoughts as I wrestle with the wretched wrapping that clings to itself and to me as if scared to let go. I mutter and curse as the film tightens and thickens and eventually manage to reduce it to a sulky pellet which I would love to hurl into the rubbish bin but cannot as it still seems loath to leave me.

Thus, the contents of my fridge are left unwrapped, tainted with onion and curry, the chicken carcasses dry out to firewood consistency, the lemon halves shrink to husks, the cabbages wilt and everything that was once fresh and crisp limps into unappetising decrepitude.

I look enviously into others’ fridges, at the tidy array of dishes and pots stacked carefully on each other, courtesy of clingfilm, and decide that I really must try again to master it, to no avail. I have wasted more yards of the dreadful stuff than is good for my temper. There are not many things that defeat me but clingfilm is one of them.

There must be a knack to it but if there is I certainly have not acquired it and sadly, I fear I never shall.

Saturday 11 May 2013

Of Cats and Butterflies and Trees

Of Cats and Butterflies and Trees

Our kittens are growing fast. Still lanky of leg and long of body they are extremely lively and very vocal. Each kitten has adopted a different member of the family though they are all very affectionate and demand a lot of attention from whoever happens to be available for a good purring. Isambard’s favourite person is Barry and Jellicoe favours me. Herschel’s chosen companion is Bertie. Actually, they all like Bertie.

The morning ritual involves the kittens calling as soon as they hear our voices. They do not, as yet, sleep in our bedroom – the dogs deserve a place of sanctuary!

Barry emerges to ecstatic miaous and purrs and then he calls Bertie out. Immediately the kittens flock to our golden boy and rub all round him, curling their tails about his body and pushing their faces against his and Bertie loves it.

Recently we have had weather warm enough to encourage us to open the patio door. Across it there is a mesh screen to allow fresh air in and prevent kittens going out. Soon we shall erect a fence within the garden to enable the little boys access to the Great Outdoors. 

The Purr…fect Cat Fence has been delivered from the States and awaits our endeavours to assemble it. First, though, shrubs and trees in the garden have had to be lopped and trimmed so that adventurous felines do not find a way to escape into the even Greater Outdoors. 
The most drastic operation has involved the slaughter pruning of our holly tree. 
No longer can the starlings and blue tits, blackbirds and thrushes rely on its prickly cover to protect them from the attentions of the sparrowhawk.

In the course of all this woodwork gardening Barry discovered that our garden shredder was not up to the job of reducing the extraneous limbs and branches to mulch and spent several happy hours researching the best machine for the job.  We were surprised when it was delivered to see how big – and heavy – it was. ‘It’s a big bugger, innit?’ we said to each other in our best Mummerset accents. 

Naturally the box it came in had to be explored . . . 

 . . . as did the shredder basket.

It is very efficient and reasonably quiet. We haven’t quite got to the stage of looking for things to cut down so that we can use it but that time is not far off, I suspect.
We shan't see any of these this year! 
I noticed a solitary holly blue butterfly disconsolately circling the remains of the tree, wondering where she was now going to lay her eggs. I hope I’m sure the tree will recover and send forth new green shoots. 

However, visiting redwings will be sorely disappointed when they fly in to feast on holly berries in the winter – there will be none this year.

We are wondering how many times the brothers will fall in the pond. My guess is probably only once, unless they decide they like swimming. The bird feeders will have to be moved to a spot beyond the fence. It means we shall not be able to observe them at quite such close quarters but at least we will remain innocent of putting them on the menu for the boys!

The sun has disappeared again so the fence will remain in its component parts in the garage and the cats will have to remain content with gazing at the garden from the safety of indoors.

I hope the Saga of the Cat Fence will be a short one – I have my doubts, though;-) 

I am linking this post to 'Camera Critters'. Thank you, Misty, for hosting this meme.

Wednesday 8 May 2013

Words for Wednesday

Words for Wednesday

Delores from 'The Feathered Nest' offered six words as a writing prompt - buzzing, intrepid, clang, broken, flash, cliff. Why not visit her and see what other writing has been prompted?
Jellicoe, Isambard and Herschel gazing into the garden

A frantic buzzing at the window attracts the attention of curious kittens. An errant bee behind the curtains has forgotten the way out.

Eager to display their hunting skills, the intrepid stalkers prowl, chittering, sharp eyes on their potential prey. It is not hunger that drives them but instinct. Their excitement grows as the bee escapes into the room. They leap and twist, a flurry of felines, each trying to outwit the others and gain the prize.

Young and inexperienced, they sometimes miscalculate their jumps and there is a clang and clatter of objects they have simply not seen. Undeterred by broken shards of china and glass they redouble their efforts to capture the intruder. Paws flash and tails lash as the furniture becomes a series of cliffs to be scaled in the pursuit.

The end comes swiftly. The bee makes a final desperate dash for the window and, to the chagrin of the kittens, flees to the garden to resume its normal routine. The kittens, not caring to show their disappointment, take up their positions in patches of sunlight and groom themselves and each other before succumbing to sleep.

A bumble bee working hard